San Diego County’s plans to approve thousands of new homes this summer could be hampered by a court’s tentative ruling this week.
A Superior Court judge has tentatively ruled in favor of the Sierra Club’s petition for a stay in a case involving how to compensate for increased greenhouse gas emissions from new housing development.
Sierra Club attorney Josh Chatten-Brown said the County of San Diego promised in 2011 to be a leader in fighting climate change. He said the county planned to offset increased carbon emissions from new housing developments with programs to improve air quality within San Diego County.
The suit says the county is now approving new housing developments but promising to mitigate for increased greenhouse gas emissions with carbon offsets elsewhere in the world.
The lawsuit attempting to block this strategy could set a precedent, Chatten-Brown said.
“Throughout the state, agencies are looking at San Diego to see what happens here, so I do think there is a real potential to have state-wide impact,” he said.
Chatten-Brown said the county needs to find programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the county, rather than buying credits in other parts of the world.
“There’s plenty of county land, including the port, in which there is potential to create offset projects,” Chatten-Brown said. “The county, for whatever reason, decided not to go that route and allowed developers to go international.”
The lawsuit could affect Newland Sierra, a proposed master-planned development of more than 2,000 new homes in North County that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is poised to consider later this month.
San Diego, like the rest of the state, is facing a shortage of housing. The question of how to make up for increased carbon emissions generated by increased traffic is one of several hurdles the region is facing as it struggles to expand to meet the demands of a growing population.